Ontologies are not the Panacea in Data Integration: A Flexible Coordinator to Mediate Context Construction

  • Aris M. Ouksel
  • Iqbal Ahmed


Shared ontologies describe concepts and relationships to resolve semantic conflicts amongst users accessing multiple autonomous and heterogeneous information sources. We contend that while ontologies are useful in semantic reconciliation, they do not guarantee correct classification of semantic conflicts, nor do they provide the capability to handle evolving semantics or a mechanism to support a dynamic reconciliation process. Their limitations are illustrated through a conceptual analysis of several prominent examples used in heterogeneous database systems and in natural language processing. We view semantic reconciliation as a nonmonotonic query-dependent process that requires flexible interpretation of query context, and as a mechanism to coordinate knowledge elicitation while constructing the query context. We propose a system that is based on these characteristics, namely the SCOPES (Semantic Coordinator Over Parallel Exploration Spaces) system. SCOPES takes advantage of ontologies to constrain exploration of a remote database during the incremental discovery and refinement of the context within which a query can be answered. It uses an Assumption-based Truth Maintenance System (ATMS) to manage the multiple plausible contexts which coexist while the semantic reconciliation process is unfolding, and the Dempster-Shafer (DS) theory of belief to model the likelihood of these plausible contexts.


ontology semantic reconciliation heterogeneous database systems heterogeneous information systems semantic interoperability data integration semantic conflicts 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aris M. Ouksel
    • 1
  • Iqbal Ahmed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Information and Decision Sciences (M/C 294)The University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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